Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Fossils and a Peak

Started the day late - largely because I did too much work - and I remain way behind. But eventually I stopped, and vacation began.

We started with a journey to Florissant, CO and Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. This involved a drive over Ute Pass. We ate at the Swiss Chalet in Woodland Park - an interesting town - definitely worth checking out further should the Trail ever wend this way again.

Florrisant Fossil Beds was an interesting mix of pine forest (pictures added to the pine cone collection photo album), fossils large (petrified wood) and small (insects), and frontier history (the Adeline Hornbek homestead). The petrified wood is from redwood trees - 35 million years or so ago, volcanic eruptions (they must have been huge as the volcano in question was some distance away) buried the valley - it was apparently quite lush and feature major redwoods. The eruptions buried a significant part of the redwoods - the tops died and decayed over the years - the stumps petrified. The volcanic activity also created a lake in the valley; the bottom of the lake became the resting place for insects and plants which became fossilized. Adeline Hornbek, a single mother of four, claimed land under the Homestead Act. She pushed the boundaries on traditional gender roles and became a prosperous rancher and a community leader.

From pondering fossils, petrified wood, and homesteading, we returned to Manitou Springs and the Pikes Peak Cog Railway for a journey above the timberline. We observed changing environs as the train climbed some 6,000 feet. Two elk, viewed from a distance, highlighted the trip - first time I have ever seen elk in the wild. Several deer were viewed as were numerous marmets.

Tomorrow is a little unplanned - it involves travel to Greeley, CO where we will have dinner with Sue Brown. We will see what else the day brings.

See you along the Trail.

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